New online market indicators add to livestock pricing intel

Beef Central, 10/11/2023

TWO new livestock market indicators have been added to the suite of tools managed by Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service.

In response to industry feedback, MLA has launched online market indicators for young cattle and lambs.

The online selling of sheep and cattle has been growing in popularity in recent years, currently representing six percent of cattle transactions, and nine percent of sheep and lambs.

The National Livestock Reporting System reports on more than 50 physical saleyard markets producing 16 price indicators that are reported on a daily, weekly and fortnightly basis. These indicators cover about one quarter of all livestock transactions.

The two daily indicators launched today are called the Online Young Cattle Indicator (OYCI) and the Online Lamb Indicator (OLI).

MLA’s market information manager Stephen Bignell said developing online indicators published on the MLA website would open-up greater information on this important area of the market.

“The online indicators provide producers with a greater breadth of data then they’ve previously had access to. It increases the sales-channels that MLA reports on,” he said.

Asked whether there was ultimately a prospect of developing an ‘over-arching’ young cattle indicator combining both saleyards and online channels, Mr Bignell said before that could be considered it was important to launch today’s online-only indicator, and gauge feedback from that.

Online marketplaces boomed during the national herd rebuild between 2020-2022, when stock were being relocated long distances. Numbers have since declined significantly.

Unlike physical sales where a team of NLRS market report contractors gather data, MLA is paying Elders and Nutrien’s AuctionsPlus platform for access to its online sales data used to construct the indicator. MLA chose not to offer a figure when Beef Central asked what sum was involved, but confirmed a supply contract had been entered into – along similar lines as market intelligence data provided by Neilsen Homescan and others. One industry source suggests the annual payment to AuctionsPlus may be as high as $100,000.

Online market indictors have been discussed in industry circles for quite some time – indeed AuctionsPlus itself floated the idea of generating its own indicator some years back. That project never went ahead.

The OYCI and OLI follow the same structure and model of MLA’s current indicators. They will capture cattle and lamb sales on online platforms that match predefined specifications.

For beef, the OYCI will be reported in liveweight (unlike the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator measured in c/kg dressed weight equivalent). The online indicator will include all yearling and weaner steer and heifer sales 200-400kg (no buyer category is recorded via online sales, ie restockers, processors or lotfeeders).

NLRS has calculated a daily online indicator history for the past 12 months, allowing some year-on-year comparisons to be made.

The OYCI reporting facility on the MLA website will contain a number of unique features:

  • The data can be interrogated by breed-type – the first time such an option has been available to stakeholders. That’s because AuctionsPlus and other online channels routinely record breed type as part of the standard assessment and listing process.
  • Users can ask the platform for data from a specific buyer/vendor geographic region only, taking the ‘national’ aspect out of the equation. Some see the fact that online sales platforms operate on a national basis as diluting the value of such an indicator, with the risk of one region cancelling out a trend in another.

Various online marketing platforms, including AuctionsPlus, Farmgate and Stocklive have been given the opportunity to participate in the reporting process, provided they meet certain reporting requirements. IT compatibility will be key.

The online sale information is recorded through the online platforms and presented to MLA in a ‘clean’ digital format which is simple to input into indicator frameworks.

The new reporting tools are being launched as the industry approaches a destocking phase, when online sales a relatively quiet. But come the next herd/flock rebuild in a year or two’s time, online livestock marketing tends to pick up, and the indicator may come into its own.

  • The new online sales indicator will be fully interactive from next week.








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